At least one police officer and one protester were injured and dozens of protesters were arrested, police said, while authorities used tear gas and water cannons to quell protests.
Police fired water cannons and tear gas while stone-giving protesters the headquarters of the opposition group – the Democratic party – in the Albanian capital, Tirana, in the midst of a deepening power struggle.
At least one police officer and one protester were injured and dozens of protesters were arrested, police said Saturday. The protests were later dispelled.
The protesters were supporters of former president and prime minister Sali Berisha, who was thrown out of the party last year after Washington banned him from entering the United States for alleged corruption.
Last May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Berisha was involved in corrupt acts during his 2005-13 term as prime minister and “used his power to his own advantage and to enrich his political allies and relatives”. ”, Allegations that Berisha denied. .
Berisha (77) is trying to remove the leader of the Democrats, Lulzim Basha, who he accuses of being a “hostage” of Prime Minister Edi Rama of the left-wing Socialist Party.
During Saturday’s unrest, Berisha supporters used hammers to break open newly installed metal security doors at the offices and throw up ladders in an attempt to reach the second floor.
Police said in a statement that they were forced to intervene after “a group of lawmakers within the Democratic Party requested police assistance because lives were in danger”.
Local media said people inside the building tried to keep the protesters out by spraying fire extinguishers before police arrived.
“The fight will continue… we regard the party building as our house and we will liberate our house,” Berisha said just after he was stopped from approaching the building again by the police who used pepper spray against him and his supporters.
Yuri Kim, the US ambassador to Albania, said Washington was “deeply concerned” about tensions surrounding the Democratic Party’s headquarters.
“We call on protest organizers to reject violence and show calm. “Those who incite violence or undermine the rule of law will be held accountable,” Kim posted on social media.
Meanwhile, the EU delegation in Albania called on all concerned to exercise “calmness and self-control”.
The European Union delegation condemns the acts of violence that took place today and calls on all parties involved to show calm and self-control. There should be no room for violence in politics. 1/3
– EU in Albania (@EUinAlbania) 8 January 2022
“There should be no room for violence in politics,” it tweeted.
“Albania’s EU integration path needs a solid opposition that contributes to the country’s reform agenda, responding to the aspirations of the Albanian people who want to see Albania overwhelmingly in the EU,” the office added.